A second-year Rochester Institute of Technology student is receiving national recognition this week as one of 10 Girl Scout USA 2014 Young Women of Distinction at a national convention in Salt Lake City.
Anna Krauss of Manorville, N.Y., has been a Girl Scout since age 5, when she joined as a Daisy Scout. Now that she is in college, she’s an Ambassador Scout and majoring in biotechnology and molecular bioscience. She regularly makes the Dean’s List at RIT.
Born deaf in one ear, Krauss lost her hearing in her other ear at age 9. Since then, she has relied on a sign language interpreter in her school classes.
In 2011, two years before she’d graduate from high school, Krauss was taking state-required tests. A portion of the test was a listening passage, given orally. Being profoundly deaf, Krauss had to rely on her interpreter to help her understand what the teacher was saying.
“I always dreaded the state tests for their listening portions,” she said. “Sometimes things get lost in translation,” Krauss said. She ended up with a test score of 80. “I started to cry if I got below a 90 in school,” she said. “It was ridiculous.”
For her Gold Award project, similar to the projects Boy Scouts must complete to become Eagle Scouts, Krauss decided to try to change the way those mandated listening portions of state tests are given to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in New York.
“I picked that because I felt very strongly about it,” she said. Krauss started lobbying state officials and as a result, the state now allows deaf and hard-of-hearing students across the state to use a written transcript during oral portions of examinations.
“It took three years for me to fight for that accommodation,” she said.
She doesn’t plan to attend the Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City because she doesn’t want to miss any classes. This summer, she traveled to the Girl Scouts of USA headquarters in New York City and met Anna Maria Chavez, the CEO of the Girls Scouts of the USA. Chavez presented Krauss with a $5,000 check that came with her award, which Krauss will use for college.
After college, she’s considering becoming a researcher or a science teacher, perhaps at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
But Krauss hopes to stay connected with the Girl Scouts as an alumnus so they can continue to empower girls like her. “I do want to continue in some way, to talk with younger troops to tell them how much they can do by staying with Girl Scouts and going all the way,” Krauss said. “It starts with cookie sales and ends with changing the world.”